Don’t be overwhelmed by the term — biofeedback, when the definition is broken down, simply means learning how to clue into and learn from the signals (feedback) the body is sending to the brain (bio). It is a holistic, non-invasive form of therapy used to treat multiple conditions, from drug addiction to stoke.
What is biofeedback therapy?
Biofeedback therapy is an innovative therapy used in the mental health world that has rapidly gained popularity in the U.S. in recent years.
According to one study, “Biofeedback is a mind–body technique in which individuals learn how to modify their physiology for the purpose of improving physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Much like physical therapy, biofeedback training requires active participation on the part of patients and often regular practice between training sessions.”
This type of therapy allows clients to become more aware of their autonomic nervous system and how it affects their interactions with the world. People often ignore symptoms like headaches or muscle tension as inconveniences easily dulled by a dose of ibuprofen, but these signals are actually the body’s way of saying a need isn’t being met or the body is taking in too much stimuli.
Once the body’s signals start interfering with our day-to-day activities, it is time to start listening and acting proactively, otherwise you might have a full blown illness or injury on your hands.
How is biofeedback therapy used in addiction recovery?
Biofeedback therapy is a holistic therapy approach, touching both mind and body, an important aspect to addiction recovery. There are several different relaxation techniques used in a biofeedback therapy session, such as sounds, images, guided meditations and vibrations meant to move you out of a heightened emotional state into a relaxed, peaceful frame of mind. A normal session lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.
Through biofeedback therapy, clients learn how to synchronize their heart rhythm to the body’s central nervous system, allowing the heart and body to work efficiently. When we’re stressed, overly emotional or just plain tired, our bodies work harder to keep us going. However, this puts a strain on the immune system, and when the heart and body fall out of sync with each other, a lot of energy is wasted toward simply keeping us functioning at the bare minimum.
Biofeedback can be incredibly beneficial for those who battle addiction for multiple reasons, but we want to address two in particular:
- Biofeedback allows you to identify and control your response to stress — This can be very helpful for someone who has used substances as an unhealthy coping mechanism. With the help of biofeedback, you learn to recognize stress and handle it appropriately, putting it into manageable perspective, before temptation gets in the way.
- Biofeedback increases the likelihood of seeing therapy through to the end — The threat of relapse is scary for a number of individuals who battle addiction, but because biofeedback is less of a therapy in the traditional sense and more like training you to reframe the way you respond to stress physically and mentally, it’s likely to have a long lasting impact.
Biofeedback therapy can also be beneficial to those battling a dual diagnosis as a result of addiction.
Who else benefits from biofeedback therapy?
Biofeedback therapy benefits individuals who suffer from:
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD);
- Attention Disorder Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD);
- Chronic pain;
- Drug addiction;
- Cardiac arrhythmias;
- Raynaud’s disease;
- Disorders of the digestive system.
Clients who mark high on muscle tension and headaches will often state these symptoms are reduced, if not eliminated, following a biofeedback therapy session. Individuals who suffer from anxiety, depression or fear will also see benefits from biofeedback therapy. Biofeedback therapy can be beneficial in treating many different disorders.
Interested in biofeedback therapy?
Many people find biofeedback therapy a viable options for many reasons, including:
- It’s non-invasiveness;
- It’s ability to be practiced in between sessions and long after therapy has been concluded;
- The benefits in helping alleviate symptoms for many conditions, including dual diagnosis;
- The gentle way it moves you from a stressful to peaceful state of mind;
- The increased likelihood of individuals completing recovery, thereby decreasing relapse.
However, we at Rehab After Work realize that because biofeedback therapy is still a newer, less common form of therapy, you likely have additional questions about these benefits, how it is done and what it might look like when incorporated into your treatment plan.